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93 carat Natural Black Diamond ‘ on display at the Natural History Museum. © Trustees of the Natural History Museum London 
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A rare 93-carat natural black diamond is on display in The Vault at the Natural History Museum, London for one year. The centrepiece of this incredible pendant is the largest diamond currently on display at the Museum. The diamond is of natural black colour and has been faceted and set into an Arabic-inspired design. The Museum currently holds three black diamonds in its collections, but all are substantially smaller.
93 carat Natural BlackDiamond‘on display at the Natural History Museum.© Trustees of the Natural History Museum London
Named by the owner after his daughter, the “Anastasia Diamond” was cut from a rough diamond weighing just over 300 carats, which likely originated from Brazil. The rough was acquired by the lender’s family during the late 1800s in Goa, India which was well known as a gem cutting centre at the time, and the gemstone has remained with the family since.
The diamond was later set into jewellery as a pendant for the lender’s daughter, after whom it is named. The piece is inspired by Arabic culture and symbolism. It includes a large crescent moon, and on the rear of the pendant is a depiction of the constellation Al-Dubb al-Akbar, otherwise known as Ursa Major, in diamonds.
Diamonds are formed deep in the Earth’s mantle, below the crust. The colour of diamonds is created by impurities, or internal imperfections in the diamond. Black diamonds – like other colourless diamonds – are made up of elemental carbon, and form under extremely high pressure and temperature conditions. The black colour in diamond has several causes. Many, and including this one, are formed of tiny intergrown crystals known as polycrystalline. They also contain nano- to micro-sized inclusions of minerals such as graphite, and internal fractures. These inclusions make the cutting and polishing of the gemstone and achieving the mirror bright lustre much more challenging. The tiny interlocking grains can be seen as lines on the surface of the polished faces. The diamond is translucent rather than opaque, and the inclusions can be seen as scattered ‘glitter’ within.
The size of the diamond is substantially larger than any diamond specimen currently on display in the Natural History Museum and is 25.5 carats larger than the world-famous Black Orlov diamond. The infamous Black Orlov diamond was discovered in the early 1800s in India and weighs 67.50 carats and has previously been displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and Natural History Museum, London.
The Black Diamond is currently on display alongside a selection of exquisite gems and minerals including the Aurora Pyramid of Hope (the largest collection of fancy coloured diamonds currently on display in the world), the 1,384 carat Devonshire Emerald and the recently discovered Winchcombe Meteor and is situated in The Vault, within the Minerals Gallery at the Museum.
For further information please contact Natural History Museum UK press office:
Natural History Museum
Email: press@nhm.ac.uk
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